CARSON, Calif. – Shortly after Leonardo scored a goal for the LA Galaxy in a Reserve League fixture against Portland last Saturday, the center back crumpled to the floor with what was believed to be a career-threatening injury.
“He was assessed as having a torn ACL at the scene,” said coach Bruce Arena, who wasn't present to witness the injury.
Luckily, the initial diagnosis of the defender's health was incorrect.
Leonardo didn't suffer what would have been his second major knee injury within a span of 14 months as many had thought. Instead, the central defender’s current prognosis is quite good, remarkable considering the extent of the injury most believed he had suffered on June 2.
The Galaxy announced earlier in the week that Leonardo had suffered no structural damage despite the initial fears. Another long-term injury would have been devastating, particularly since the Brazilian had done so much to get back onto the field.
Still, LA are playing it safe.
“I’m still waiting to make sure that [his knee is] OK,” Arena cautioned.
Leonardo tore ligaments in his knee in April 2011, an injury which kept him out of action until April 2012. At the time, he had played in every minute of the first seven games of LA's season. He saw his first action since his injury in a competitive match on May 29 in a US Open Cup match against Carolina, playing all 90 minutes in the 2-1 loss to the RailHawks.
He’d earned another start against Portland’s reserves and scored a goal, re-directing a free kick from Kyle Nakazawa into the back of the net, before catastrophe appeared to have struck again.
But while the injury knocked him out of the match, it apparently has not knocked him out of anything save for a training session or two.
“The guy has worked so hard. It’s unbelievable how hard he’s worked. He scores a goal in this game and comes off a few minutes later,” Arena said. “We’re happy it appears to be nothing serious. Hopefully, he’ll be ready to go next week.”
Buddle goes under the knife
Another injured player was not as lucky as Leonardo. Striker Edson Buddle underwent surgery at the beginning of this week and will be out for three to six weeks. Buddle has played in 12 of the Galaxy’s 13 games, scoring twice, most recently against Houston on May 26 in LA’s last regular-season match. Buddle made the trip with the team to Carolina for the Open Cup match but did not play.
When he returned to Southern California, instead of readying himself for some time off, he went under the knife.
Exactly when he damaged his knee remains a bit of a mystery, though.
“He got tackled in the beginning of the Houston game and that impacted him a little bit,” Arena said. “It could be a fresh injury or an old one. You never know with those things.”